Outdoor Smoking Ban Goes into Effect Today

By Katherine Creag
|  Monday, May 23, 2011  |  Updated 10:44 AM EDT
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Starting Monday, smokers can no longer light up in city parks, pedestrian plazas or on public beaches.

Starting Monday, smokers can no longer light up in city parks, pedestrian plazas or on public beaches.

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The city's outdoor smoking ban officially goes into effect Monday, and violators who are caught puffing away at parks, plazas and beaches could get fined $50.

Smokers were getting their last puffs in at Union Square Park Sunday, though some were skeptical the new law would be effective.

"A lot of people smoke," said Michael Deleon DeJesus. "What are you going to do, hand out a million tickets in one day?"

Dennis White, also a smoker, told NBC New York, "I think in restaurants, in stores, everything like that, it's a good law because you're in a building. But outside, I mean, you got all the smog. What's a cigarette gonna do?"

City health leaders say it will protect New Yorkers from secondhand smoke in what they call family-friendly places.

Mohamed Hussein said he and his 7-1/2-month pregnant wife support the smoking ban.

"We just don't like smoking in public," he said. "I have a baby right now. I don't like my wife standing near a smoking person."

The city plans television and print ads to get the word out about the ban but for the most part is relying on the public to enforce the law.

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